Day six of A Life Less Plastic: the curse of convenience

February 19, 2018

The thing that really pisses me off about this whole plastic business is that we're all trying our darndest to do the right thing for the environment, but the odds are totally stacked against us.


Who can walk into a supermarket and do a full shop without a large chunk of it being in plastic packaging? Who has selected 'no bags' for their online grocery shop, only for each bloomin' carrot and pepper to arrive in individual small plastic bags? Who loves crisps, but hates the fact that packets are completely unrecyclable? Who wants to know if their plastic food tray is recyclable, but has no idea because there’s no proper labelling?  


Who wishes that companies would make it just a little bit easier for us? 


Yes, we have purchasing power and can make reasonable choices to try and reduce our plastic consumption. But if you’re a working parent with kids, or you’re on a tight lunchbreak, or you arrive home late from work knackered, who really has the energy or inclination to think about whether brand x or y contains the least plastic packaging, or microbeads, or whatever, when all they want to do is collapse on the sofa?


We do what we can. But the people who can really make a difference are the companies that manufacture the products we buy. They have a responsibility to us and to the world we live in, so why do they make it so hard? Why is plastic the default choice for everything? Why is it ok for sugar and flour to be sold in paper packages, but not rice and pasta? Why are so few people asking these questions?   


All props to Iceland for committing to eliminate plastic on all own-brand products – I hope other supermarkets follow suit soon. The tide seems to be turning a bit, but let’s not be too hasty. Environmental concerns tend to matter less when the most important thing is to keep costs low and profits high.


I’m not much of a petition-signer, so this may not be the right one to shout about (if there’s a better one, let me know) but this petition for supermarkets to ban plastic packaging seems to be a good place to start if you want to do some shouting yourself.


Back in my little world, we arrived home at 5.30pm today after a late-afternoon dentist trip and the kids were tired and hungry, so we ate the pizza and chips that were in the freezer. We needed speed and convenience, but in this day and age, those things are sadly synonymous with plastic.


This is proving much harder than I thought.




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© 2019 by Jules Birkby / Now Then, Sunshine.